On YouTube there is a user by the name “TheAtheistAntidote” — which right away should tell you the level of idiocy to which this guy can ascend. Recently he made a video with the title “Atheism void of Liberty (No God = No Liberty)”. That’s right, he is actually attempting to make the claim that without a supernatural “big brother”, you don’t have any liberty whatsoever:
Before rebutting key points in his video, I need to point out one observation from this video. He is basically setting up one giant false dichotic argument here. A false dichotomy, for those unaware of the definition, is when you try to argue on the basis that there are only two, mutually exclusive points of view, and only one can be right. Here, TheAtheistAntidote establishes the false dichotic view of either God or government, God or the state.
As a libertarian atheist… how anyone can assert that false dichotomy is beyond me. But let’s get down to the actual points he was trying to make.
Many will be quick to cite the Islamic world as a society that exemplifies the antithesis of freedom, however, Allah is not regarded as a source of liberty, but an object of submission. Islam itself means submission.
Right away he is making an historical fallacy here. Judaism, Christianity and Islam are all regarded as Abrahamic religions, meaning all three are interpretations and reinterpretations of the same God and his will over man. Thus if you are going to try to assert your God as the source of liberty, Allah (the Arabic word for God, by the way) is also a source of liberty. Islam is an interpretation of the will of God, which differs in key ways from Christianity.
Since the dawn of the American experiment, and in fact predating our very colonies, personal liberty and personal freedom have been inextricably linked to the creator God.
Actually before the American experiment, few knew what real liberty actually felt like. Most everyone in the world knew only tyranny to some degree, as they were all subjects to a crown, emperor, dictator, or the like. And they all asserted their power came from a god, otherwise how would they have gotten into power. It must’ve been God’s will that their bloodline rules, right? Google “divine right” for an historical lesson on that concept.
It wasn’t until the rise of the American colonies against the Crown of Great Britain that we started to assert that the Crown does not have any legitimate power not granted to it by the people. With regard to the governments of the various colonies, the assertion was that only the people can grant power to a government. Any such power usurped from the people against the will of the people or by deceiving the people is not legitimate power.
Further any power exercised to oppress the people, or any denomination of the people therein, is not a legitimate exercise of power and is, by its very definition, tyranny.
We are a nation founded on the very premise that God Almighty is the only true source for such liberty, a declaration of unmovable truth inscribed on our very Liberty Bell.
While he is saying this, “Lev 25” flashes on the screen, meaning Leviticus 25, the book of the Old Testament that lays out various Mosaic laws. It’s rather intriguing how Christians will routinely state that the old Mosaic laws no longer apply, yet they have no issue in quoting them to assert their points.
He makes reference to the Liberty Bell. On the bell is inscribed:
Proclaim LIBERTY throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof
Lev. XXV. v X.
By Order of the ASSEMBLY of the Province of PENSYLVANIA for the State House in Philad
Pass and Stow
“Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof”. With this reference inscribed on the bell, it is not saying or asserting that God Almighty is the “true source for such liberty”. Merely it is making a statement that the bell is to proclaim liberty throughout the colonies.
If the state be your only bestower of rights, as the secular extremists among you are forced to insist, then said state can take them away, and history proves that take them away they will.
Actually I think you’ll be hard pressed to find secularists who will assert that the State is the bestower of rights. I’m a secularist, and I have never said that our rights were granted by men or a government. Every time a government has trampled upon the rights of the people, that government has assumed its power illegitimately and has asserted its power through tyranny. The secularization of society may have made it easier to usurp that power, but the power was nonetheless illegitimately usurped from a complacent people.
Reason, human instinct, and all that we know of man prove that the bigger the significance of the state, the lesser the significance of individual liberty. Our founders knew, therefore, that the opposite must be the basis of our American values.
This is one of the few correct statements he makes throughout this video. It’s only a crying shame he’s making it in a video where he’s asserting the true source of individual liberty is with a government that transcends all governments, that being the divine governance of God, assuming you believe in that.
The more important God is in the eyes of free individuals, the less significant the state, and the greater the individual. This is the bedrock of our country.
This is the false dichotomy I alluded to earlier. There is no divine balance scale with God on one side and the State on the other, where the lesser significance of God means greater significance of the State and vice versa. If you want proof of this false dichotomy, all you have to do is talk to Christian and secular anarchists as well as Christian theocrats about their views of God, government, and personal liberty.
It is not a coincidence that as we move away from our God-centered roots, we see more laws governing the conduct of free men. Limitations of speech, property ownership and the fruits of labor spring up like weeds in a garden that once grew lush with God-granted liberty.
He must be ignoring many of the laws that were enacted based on Biblical and Christian principles. These would include laws against consensual sexual actions, including limiting what sexual positions you could use let alone whether you could engage in consensual anal or oral sex or group sex, laws against prostitution, drugs and alcohol purchase and consumption, laws restricting the personal liberties of homosexuals, laws enacted to target homosexuals, and so on.
Those are laws that restrict personal liberty, enacted in the name of Biblical principles and Christian “values”. Do you not see those as laws “governing the conduct of free men”?
Yes we do see the other limitations mentioned, and we are fighting back against the government to see those liberties restored. Going to church and praying it be so won’t make it happen. You must act to make it so.
Our children once whispered before each school day, “Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence on thee, and beg the blessing upon us, our parents, our teachers, and our country.”
I know, I know avert your children’s eyes from the evil of this generalized acknowledgment of our right-giver, a non-denominational prayer which no child was forced to say, in no way violated our Constitution.
Five citizens filed suit to stop this prayer from being recited in the schools, and the lawsuit was supported by various Jewish organizations, because the prayer was deemed to be contrary to certain religious beliefs. The case in question is Engel v. Vitale, 370 US 421 (1961).
Plus the prayer was a prayer undoubtedly created by Christians, prescribed by law over all children, not just Christian children. How is that not a violation of the Constitution?
Public schools are an arm of the government. Anything required by or in a public school is as if the government itself is requiring it. By requiring children in a public school to recite a prayer, the government might as well require everyone open their day by attending church. If you don’t see that as a violation of the Constitution, you are seriously messed up.
You and your children are profoundly less free than your father or grandfather.
Nothing could be further from the truth. All one has to do is study the history of the United States since the Civil War to see how wrong this statement is. This is especially true of the minority races and cultures in the United States.
Let’s go over a few of the ways that people were “freer” in earlier generations: mandatory, government prescribed, segregation in most areas of life including public schools, private businesses, other public services, and even cemeteries; anti-miscegeny laws; inter-racial sex laws; laws and policies specifically targeting homosexuals and minorities. Need I go on?
To say the people today are “less free”, let alone to say “profoundly less free”, than earlier generations should earn the speaker a slap across the face with the thickest history book available. Plus with the advent and technological advances of the Internet, free speech has never been more open, its exercise easier, and the voices of other people in society has never been more accessible.
“If it is not God who grants you your only personal liberty, who in fact does ensure certain unalienable rights?” I ask. “On whose authority outside of man do you lay claim to this personal liberty and freedom that we love and have died for?”
Who, other than Christians, say that God grants you personal liberty? Aside from that, you later assert that if the state grants liberty, the state can later take it away. If God grants liberty, what is there to stop him from taking it away? And who are you to say he will not do that?
At least the government we can stop from taking our liberties away. Who is there to stop God from doing such a thing if he so desires?
I don’t clam to own the liberty I have either. To borrow the words of British comedian Pat Condell, I don’t own this freedom as I know it was handed to me on a platter by those who did earn it with their lives. I am little more than a steward of this freedom, which is why I speak out against the government in whatever way I can to preserve this liberty and freedom for future generations.
Government, if not restrained by fear of God alone, is little more than a sword wielded by the powerful over the weak.
Again with the false dichotomy. I hate to say this, but God cannot restrain the government. Only the people can do that. Will you help keep the government restrained, or will you instead call for further restrictions on the freedom and liberty of individuals in line with your religious beliefs?
* * * * *
Throughout the video, the presenter constantly refers to our rights, freedom and liberty as being “God-given” or “God-granted”, yet he also says that government is not the grantor of rights. These assertions are self-contradictory.
If you believe in God, you believe in a government, a supernatural government whose will, authority, and tyranny you have no choice but to accept and to which you are eternally subject without any hope or possibility of escape. This government is even more tyrannical than the governments of men, as the governor God can find you guilty for crimes of thought, thoughts you may not even realize you had.
And on this trial of guilt there is no jury, no witnesses to cross-examine, no counsel to assist, and no appeal. Any finding of guilt is final, and any sentence eternal.
The idea that without God you have no liberty, or without God you have no rights can be seen as the fallacy it is when taken in this light.
If government does not grant rights, then God does not grant rights. From where then, do our rights originate? Ourselves.
However if government is to be the protector of rights, the protector of liberty, then God, if He exists, is not a grantor of rights and liberty, but the ultimate protector of rights and liberty. For if we have rights because we exist, even God cannot trample upon them, and any laws handed down by God that trample upon our rights as men are also illegitimate on their face.